Stella next introduces Rebecca Trevalyan and the "Library of Things"

Rebecca opens with a story about her old flatmate with a habit of ordering loads of cheap tools online that he would use once and would eventually end up in a storage unit.

Rebecca thinks "We need to build something better" and "What if we made borrowing better than buying?"

She explains that borrowing from someone is more socially rewarding and it encourages a physical interaction with the possibility of learning a new skill, not to mention it could potentially be cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

Library of things is described as "A shared treasure box filled with useful things such as drills, steam cleaners, projectors etc..."

These would be set up in community hubs, pubs & libraries.

With this basic plan in mind they invited several people with in the community to a small room in a local library, there they set up a "wish list" of items and discussed fair rental prices.

Once this project started to gather steam £15k was crowd funded and with the help of a team of volunteers they tested their model from shipping containers figuring out what items were the most popular.

As more and more people started to use the project it soon became apparent that this system could not continue as the workload of the volunteers was too demanding.

Once again, Rebecca admits "We need to build something better"

My manager would call this "failing forward"

The newest Library of Things model is to crowdfund £10k and build a "smart kiosk" where people sign up and reserve their items online. This reduces the volunteer workload significantly.

Users collect their items from the distribution site and pay a fixed rate per day. Customers are also invited to participate in classes and skill-sharing workshops and asked to volunteer their time at community events.


This current system offers employment, revenue and foot-traffic wherever they are located as well as reducing the amount of landfill waste generated from packaging!

Rebecca closes by admitting that it's not perfect and they still "need to build something better" but they will keep "dreaming big and testing small" as they grow their model to engage more and more people.

This is a genuinely amazing, grass-roots, community success story. I'm blown away!

There should be a Library of Things in every major city!

Next part: Miriam Delogu from The Circle

To read more about my Locality experience click here!